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Apple buys fingerprint security firm AuthenTec for $356 million

July 27, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • Apple has purchased AuthenTec Inc., a fingerprint-authentication products maker, for $356 million in cash. Above, an Apple store in Hong Kong.
Apple has purchased AuthenTec Inc., a fingerprint-authentication products… (Jerome Favre / EPA )

Seeking to improve its touch technology, security, its patents portfolio or perhaps all of the above, Apple has purchased AuthenTec Inc., a fingerprint-authentication products maker, for $356 million in cash, according to an SEC filing.

The acquisition is the second biggest purchase ever made by Apple and offers AuthenTec's stockholders $8 a share, more than 60% above its Thursday closing price.

AuthenTec sells fingerprint sensors to companies for security purposes but its touch-sensing technology can also be integrated into computers, according to the New York Times. AuthenTec also makes security technology for mobile devices, which could come in handy for Apple which this month saw malware sneak into its iOS App Store for the first time.

The Florida-based company was founded in 1998 and last saw an $8 share price back in 2008.

For Apple, this is its biggest purchase since it bought Anobit Technologies in 2011 for $400 million. Besides AuthenTec's technology, the acquisition's patent holdings should also prove valuable for Apple in the current "patent wars" Apple is waging in court with various technology companies around the world.

If AuthenTec chooses to sell itself to another bidder, it agreed to pay Apple about $11 million. If the deal doesn't receive approval because of antitrust issues, Apple will pay AuthenTec $20 million. Apple will also have to decide if it wants to license certain patents and technology on a non-exclusive basis for an aggregate total of $115 million.

Neither company disclosed Apple's plans for AuthenTec, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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